democracy under siege

Ross Perot’s warning to the U.S. over NAFTA, that there’d be a “giant sucking sound” as jobs moved to lower-wage areas, proved to be an understatement.

The outsourcing stories were covered quite thoroughly by the media; as a Business Week subscriber, I learned that not only blue collar jobs and telephone call centers were involved. Architects, engineers and computer experts were also cheaper overseas. During this period, executive compensation went through the roof. Globalization and tax breaks for the rich created class distinctions reminiscent of old Europe.

In 2010 the Supreme Court passed the Citizens United bill, which upheld the right of free speech for corporations. This opened the flood gates for campaign donations, and America’s billionaires assumed a new prominence. Today it’s virtually impossible for ordinary people to enter political life at the national level in the U.S. without being backed by these powerful sponsors.

Canada is highly dependent on the U.S. and the Americans are always a powerful influence. America’s move toward plutocracy has encouraged elements in this country to attack a way of life Canadians had come to take for granted. One of the most telling developments is the Harper government’s open mockery of Canada’s parliamentary system.

To my discredit, I’d been apolitical most of my life, and it wasn’t until my ’50s that a journalism course opened my eyes more to current events. However like most Canadians, I knew something of what our people went through to win democracy.

It’s a wondrous thing for people to have a voice in their own government, and every representative, from every part of this nation, is deserving of considerable respect. When they go to Ottawa they have a job to do, and it’s not for anyone on Earth to get in their way.

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